The Benefits of Varying Bath Water Temperatures

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Hydrotherapy
Positive speech and thoughts can improve your physical health and emotional well-being. Affirmations or positive speech is a powerful tool for changing your life in a positive way forever. Successful people, whether performers, athletes, leaders or parents, share one trait in common. They mentally prepare themselves for any challenges they may face every day. For these people an obstacle is nothing more than an exciting challenge to overcome successfully. Many women feel the temperature of their bath is a personal choice, and for the most part it is. However, the temperature of a woman’s bath or shower can create physiological changes.

Hot Bath or Shower
A Hot bath or shower consists of a water temperature ranging between 96 F to 105 F. Hot baths or hot water showers can stimulate the immune system and increase circulation. By soothing nerves, hot water calms and relaxes the body. Hot water baths lasting two to fifteen minutes are employed in the treatment of chronic rheumatic manifestations in joints, fibrous tissue, and muscles; for the relief of muscle spasms, and of colic in the gastric, intestinal, gall bladder, or urinary tracts. Hot water can also cleanse the skin, and moisturize it too; pores are opened and take in water. Hot baths with temperatures above 101 F put a strain on the heart as it works to dilate blood vessels in order to cool the body. Women suffering from heart disease or conditions that effect the arteries or the central nervous system need to avoid these water temperatures.

Cold Bath or Shower
The cold bath or showers, which consists of temperatures varying from 50 F to 70 F may be used to, stimulate a woman’s metabolism. The feeling of exhilaration is achieved with cold water temperatures because the circulation becomes rapid in the body. The cold water temperatures are used as a metabolic stimulant, for obesity, and for atonic states. A study performed at the University of Hull found the regime of cold showers taken by athletes could reduce stress levels and create mental toughness. Cold baths and showers can wake both you and your muscles up during morning hours, revitalize the body after work; help cool down a sunburn and prevent it from penetrating to deeper layers of the skin, and it can temporarily alleviate skin irritations such as insect bites and minor skin allergies. But a word of caution, be sure that your heart, arteries and blood pressure can stand the shock. Because of the sudden drop in body temperature, the increase in pulse and respiration, as well as the dilation of blood vessels, this temperature should only be used for short periods of time, not over 3 minutes, more as a dip than an actual immersion. After the cold water experience, always towel dry completely and quickly. The use of cold water temperatures should only be used by the healthiest of individuals, consult your doctor if you have concerns.

Neutral Bath or Shower
The neutral bath or shower, usually consists of temperatures at the body’s normal surface area, that of 93 F. Usually water at this temperature produces little physiological change. However, they can often calm nervousness and emotional upsets, reduce some joint swelling, and cleanse the body. Another use for neutral temperatures of water, it’s the best temperature for water aerobics and exercise.

External Hydrotherapy
Today women can visit spas and salons and see the broad array of treatments offered. Many rely on varying water temperatures. The study of Hydrotherapy is the therapeutic use of water, steam, and ice and has been used for centuries to treat injuries and ailments. Many cultures, such as the Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, as well as ancient Romans used water therapy for healing purposes. The ancient Greeks took therapeutic baths. Midwives have used warm water baths to assist in relaxing laboring mothers, making deliveries easier for the mother and gentler for the baby.

There are 3 categories of external hydrotherapy used in the medical profession, spas, and salons:
  • Hot Water
  • Cold Water
  • Alternating temperatures of Hot and Cold Water
Today hydrotherapy can be found in spas and salons, but is virtually used in every physical therapy department in hospitals and medical centers. Because of the readily available substance, water at varying temperatures can be used to help the sick or help the average woman if fighting off the aging process.

The use of hot and cold water in hydrotherapy is used to relax muscles, stimulate circulation, and increase metabolism. Contrast hydrotherapies, which typically involve compresses or immersion, alternating hot temperatures and cold temperatures can dramatically stimulate local circulation. A 30-minute treatment of hot and cold compresses (four minutes hot, one minute cold) to the face, for example, can increase blood flow to the skin by 95%. Increased blood flow means the creation of collagen, more elasticity in the skin and less wrinkling.

Generally speaking, most baths and showers at all temperatures are drying to the skin. So ladies, you must always apply a moisturizer after every bath or shower. And although, most women and men alike prefer a comfortable water temperature of 98 F to 100 F, the healing effects of hot water temperatures for relaxing purposes, cold water temperatures for revitalizing the muscles, and alternating the two temperatures for increased circulation; has great physiological effects on the body.